Parent Ambassadors will help new American families succeed in Metro Schools

Mayor Karl Dean today joined with Metro Schools to announce a new Parent Ambassadors program and introduce 20 parents who will serve as ambassadors this school year. As ambassadors, they are paired with New American families who are from their same home country and/or speak their same language and who are new to Nashville schools. As part of the free program, the ambassadors provide information and guidance on navigating the school system. “Nashville’s immigrant population is one of the fastest-growing in the nation, and the Parent Ambassadors program is another step in making sure we remain an inclusive and welcoming city to New Americans” Mayor Dean said. “I thank the parents who have volunteered to be an important bridge between immigrant communities and our school system and assist our youth so they can succeed in school.”

The Ambassadors program is a collaborative effort between the Office of Mayor Karl Dean and Metro Schools’ Office of Family and Community Partnerships and Office of English Learners, and it grew, in part, out of Mayor Dean’s New Americans Advisory Council. Ambassadors also will serve as advisors to Metro Schools, assisting school leaders on policies and practices that ease the transition into schools for new families and their students.

“The Parent Ambassadors program will give our newly arriving students and their families an early welcome and a quick start in public schools,” said Director of Schools Dr. Jesse Register. “Increased parental engagement with schools and the district will start them on the right path at the very beginning.”

Parent Ambassadors will assist families with any questions about how Metro Schools works and connect them with school personnel to help solve issues. They also will participate in large district events, such as the First Choice Festival and participate in parent leadership opportunities, such as the Parent Advisory Council and parent workshops.

“When an immigrant student first enters a Metro school, a lot of time is spent just adjusting to the new environment and learning how it all works,” said Gini Pupo-Walker, executive director of family and community partnerships. “When families know what to expect in our classrooms and know how our system works, their children are already a step ahead. They can get started learning right away.”

Parent leaders serving in the inaugural group of Parent Ambassadors come from 10 different countries and speak nine different languages. The countries they represent include Burma, Congo, Egypt, Iraq, Mexico, Nepal, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Somalia and Sudan. Parent Ambassadors will receive free training from several departments within Metro Schools, and they will begin working with New American families this month.

In Metro Schools, 11,049 students – about 13 percent of the total student population -- are enrolled in the English Learner program. There are approximately 110 unique languages spoken by students in Metro Schools.